“You need to offer it all. You better have quality. You better have value and atmosphere. You need to have the whole package.” I had lunch and a visit with Rene Ehmcke at The Gambling Cowboy in Old Town Temecula last week. It truly is a mom and pop operation. Dad Bill is the inspiration for the restaurant’s name, mom Nitza is in charge of the the finances and decorations and Rene oversees the kitchen and the front of the house. She has twenty years of background in the restaurant business in Bakersfield. She and her family spent about two years looking for a place to open in Temecula before they wound up purchasing Penfold’s Cattle Company.
The Ehmckes went to work with the goal of offering a fine dining experience without fine dining prices. Dinner entrees start at $17. The focus is classic steak and seafood. All of the meats are either Choice or Prime. Rene believes in keeping “everything local as much as we possibly can.” You’ll see it reflected in their wine list, with a wide selection of Temecula wines. She and her staff visit the wineries and have a great relationship with them It’s not uncommon to see some of the area’s winemakers enjoying dinner there. If you bring in a bottle of Temecula wine, you won’t pay a corkage fee.
Chef Wayne Quintos executes Rene’s vision in the kitchen. She believes the key to keeping people coming back is in “a lot of hard work and a lot of paying attention to detail.” She feels Old Town is an ideal location because of all that’s going on there. With “Hot Summer Nights” every Friday, the Farmers Market every Saturday and so much more, Old Town is experiencing a re-birth. There are several wine tasting rooms now and food choices include Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian and barbeque.
My lunch was delicious. The salmon was moist and tender and was complimented by berries, pear, Maytag blue cheese, candied pecans and dried cranberries. Sunday nights Prime Rib is $1 an ounce starting with a 12 ounce portion. She says they did serve a 26 ounce portion one night. The Prime Rib is accompanied by chef’s potatoes and their signature roasted corn sliced off the cob.
Do your taste buds a favor and pay a visit to The Gambling Cowboy. They’re open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday and for breakfast on the weekends. 42072 5th Street (3rd Floor) – Temecula Old Town (951) 699-2895